Former CNN anchor to speak on diversity on TV

Soledad O’Brien

Quiche Matchen

Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien will be making her way to WKU to speak on a topic in which she is an expert — diversity.

The former CNN anchor and CEO of Starfish Media Group will speak on the topic of diversity on television. Diversity is a topic O’Brien is known for, in part thanks to her reporting on the CNN documentary series, “Black in America.”

O’Brien will be the second act in the annual Cultural Enhancement Series at WKU. She will give her presentation, “Diversity: On television, behind the scenes and in our lives” on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Van Meter Auditorium.

David Lee, dean of Potter College of Arts and Letters, said O’Brien is a high-profile journalist.

“Her reporting on race issues is very significant work,” Lee said. “She just seems to be someone that has some very significant things to say for the campus community.”

He said O’Brien is someone who has been suggested in the past for the Cultural Enhancement Series.

“We could never make our schedule and her schedule work,” he said. “This year it just happened that we had a date, she had a date and we were able to arrange her visit here.”

Lee said she is an expert on the topic of diversity, and he’s excited about O’Brien coming to WKU.

“I’ve paid attention to her work for a long time,” he said. “I’m curious to see what she has to say in person.”

Loup Langton, director for the School of Journalism and Broadcasting, said O’Brien is looked up to because of her accomplishments.

Langton said he thinks she’ll make a great guest for the university and in particular, for journalism students. Students can expect to hear things from her that are not predictable.

“She will give students, faculty and others that attend her presentation some different things to think about and some different ways of looking at things we routinely see around us in the news,” he said.

Andrea Garr-Barnes, director for the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, said O’Brien will bring a lot of experience to WKU and that a better question to ask is what O’Brien doesn’t bring to the table.

“She has so many intersections, whether it be race, ethnicity, sexual identification in terms of being a woman. Being a younger woman, being a woman of color or being a mother,” she said.

Garr-Barnes said someone like O’Brien can talk to students about issues bigger than reality television.

“She can also talk to us about moral responsibility, not only that we have as individuals in terms of television, but what the networks have,” she said.

Garr-Barnes said she hopes students will learn from O’Brien to stay true to themselves.

“Just because large structures close the front door on your diversity doesn’t mean that you don’t look for a window or side door,” she said. “To see young sisters like Soledad O’Brien achieve the accomplishments that they have gives me hope for the generation that’s in college right now.”